June 23, 2010 11:44 Age: 4 yrs

FACULTY VOICES: Internship Leads To Active Role in Amicus Brief in CItizens United

When the U.S. Supreme Court issued the order for supplemental briefing in Citizens United v. FEC last summer I was working as a legal intern at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. The Brennan Center is one of the leading advocates of strong federal campaign finance laws that meet constitutional standards and encourage broad candidate participation in elections.

In this role, the center became part of a group helping to coordinate the amicus effort in support of the government’s position in Citizens United. In addition, the Brennan Center drafted an amicus brief with new media journalists, including the Center for Independent Media, Calitics.com and Eyebeam.

As a legal intern, I researched the history and application of the media exemption in the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act for the brief and assisted in drafting the brief that ultimately was submitted. My experience went far beyond the work on this brief, however, as I was able to participate in brainstorming sessions about strategy for the entire amicus effort.

Most of my efforts focused on developing potential narrow solutions that might appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court and prevent a ruling similar to the broad opinion that was eventually written. These solutions centered largely on the idea of the expansion of an exception for nonprofit corporations from the campaign finance regulations at issue.

Further, I conducted significant preliminary research on disclosure provisions and developed arguments aimed at encouraging the Court to reinforce the constitutionality of disclosure provisions in its decision. As a culmination of my work on the case, I was able to attend U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments for Citizens United with attorneys at the Brennan Center on Sept. 9, 2009.

The entire experience, including the short briefing schedule, with amicus briefs due less than two months after the order was issued, allowed me to gain a tremendous amount of experience and expertise in campaign finance reform. As my professional goals are in the election law field, the opportunity to participate in a case of such significance has proven to be invaluable.

— Danielle Friedman 10L

See also: Impact of the Citizens United Decision

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